YACHT | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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I've noticed something about artists born in the 80s. It's as if the Internet has ruined their lives--with all the ugliness of the world at their fingertips, they seem to want to retreat into childhood, and much of their work is suffused with the cheery colors of Saturday-morning cartoons and the naive simplicity of eight-bit video games. Jona Bechtolt, aka YACHT (or Young Americans Challenging High Technology, after a sign he saw on a building in Portland), is one such artist--though ironically he uses some ultra high-tech gear. Having taught himself Web design in his teens, he dropped out of high school, got his GED, and never looked back. He uses his fancy laptop to create fabulous candy-striped IDM ditties set to hip-hop beats, then performs them live with the help of his friends--via his Bluetooth-equipped cell phone, their images are projected live onstage as they chat with him between tunes. (During the songs he can't talk--he's usually bouncing and thrashing around like he missed his dose of Ritalin.) Bechtolt prefers to simply add and subtract layers of sound rather than give his music a final destination, but that lack of climax or resolution doesn't make his stuff boring: he'll shred his cutesy, eyelash-batting melodies with gusts of gabber noise, then drift back to Happyland. His effervescent little tunes are good for chasing the tornadoes out of your head--they remind me of Lisa Frank's hearts-and-unicorns fantasies, so that I can't help but picture a bluebird tweeting out the notes in saturated psychedelic colors. It's a tad too cheery to be telling the whole truth--but is that really what you're looking for? Thanksgiving, 1985, Goldstar, and Circus of the Stars open. $5. Friday, August 20, 11 PM, Big Horse, 1558 N. Milwaukee; 773-770-2039.

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